St Albans community left in limbo about fate of ‘precious’ green space

PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:35 05 December 2018

Residents surrounding this green space, on Wynches Farm Drive, are applying for it to be made an Asset of Community Value. Picture: Natalie Henderson

Residents surrounding this green space, on Wynches Farm Drive, are applying for it to be made an Asset of Community Value. Picture: Natalie Henderson

Archant

A community are in limbo waiting to find out if their “precious” green space will be protected in law.

The piece of green by Wynches Farm Drive. Picture: Natalie HendersonThe piece of green by Wynches Farm Drive. Picture: Natalie Henderson

In June this year, families living on Wynches Farm Drive estate lost a battle to stop developers Taylor Wimpey selling a piece of communal grass to a private landlord.

It is used as a play space for children, a picnic area in the summer, and a place to walk dogs.

The resident’s predicted whoever bought the auction lot would let it fall into disrepair or develop the land.

Soon after it was sold for £86,500, the residents filed an Asset of Community Value application - which would designate it as land which furthers social wellbeing of the community.

Wynches Farm Drive residents on the green space. Picture: Natalie HendersonWynches Farm Drive residents on the green space. Picture: Natalie Henderson

If the application is accepted, the landlord must notify St Albans district council (SADC) if they intend to sell or grant a lease of over 25 years.

The community also has six months to prepare an acquisition bid if it goes up for sale - which is exactly what the residents tried to do in the summer.

SADC is yet to make a decision on the application, six months later.

Businesswoman Natalie Henderson has lived opposite the green for eight years and described the land as “precious”.

Residents surrounding this green space, on Wynches Farm Drive, are applying for it to be made an Asset of Community Value. Picture: Natalie HendersonResidents surrounding this green space, on Wynches Farm Drive, are applying for it to be made an Asset of Community Value. Picture: Natalie Henderson

She said she has chased the application four times since August: “If the council don’t protect this land for us, it gives the green light to developers to include open green spaces in other development plans and then change their minds later and sell off the land for further development.

“It has taken double the amount of time that it should have taken and it’s ongoing. The area has not been maintained [since the purchase], so the grass is now quite long - which is what we expected if it were sold to a public person and disappears out of community hands.”

Deputy chief executive for commercial and development at SADC, Richard Shwe, said: “I’m sorry that there has been a delay in requesting further information from the applicants.

“There was a misunderstanding about whether further information had been requested following the departure of a member of the team, which led to a delay. We have now requested further details to consider as part of the application.”

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